Cajon girls basketball coach Mark Lehman was surprised when he found out his team was picked for the CIF-SS Open Division playoffs.
Should he have been?
Absolutely. Considering his team was ranked fifth in Division 1A entering the season’s final week, the Open Division took only one of the teams ranked ahead of Cajon in Division 1A, Riverside North.
Entering the week, 3 Division 1A teams were on the Open Division Watch List: Riverside North, Fullerton Troy and Cajon. North was ranked No. 1 in 1A, and got the 16 seed in the Open Division. Cajon was No. 5 in 1A, and got the 15 seed. Troy was ranked No. 3 and didn’t get in, and is the No. 2 seed in 1A.
I realize that Cajon had a big win, beating Eisenhower, which had given Cajon its only loss in the teams’ first meeting. Yet no one else above them in 1A lost during the final week. So, how is Cajon the No. 5 team in 1A according to that division’s pollsters entering the week, then essentially the No. 1 team (highest Open Division seed) just a week later?
And, Eisenhower wasn’t on the Open Division watch list. So if Eisenhower, which is in 2AA, had only one loss and beat Cajon, why weren’t the Eagles on the Open Division Watch List? And if the Eagles weren’t on the Open Division watch list, how big a win could it have been for Cajon?
I don’t know. And I also don’t know why there is a disconnect between the divisional rankings and who gets in the Open Division. Here’s a suggestion to start: Don’t just have a Watch List for the Open Division, but have Open Division rankings every week, ranking the top 16, then adding “others.” Yes, so some teams would be ranked in the Open Division and their regular division. But at least they would know exactly where they stand and not be taken off guard. Cajon was one of 20 teams in the Watch List, and while Lehman knew his team wasn’t among the top handful, he didn’t know if he was 12, 15, 18 or 20 going into the week.
Lehman didn’t think his team deserved to be in the Open Division and didn’t want to be there. Other coaches such as Etiwanda’s Anders Anderson wanted to be in the Open Division. Etiwanda played a much tougher schedule as Cajon and was worthy of consideration. If Etiwanda wanted in and Cajon wanted out, why couldn’t that be accommodated?
It also would be nice to know who is on this committee, but that’s another blog post.